Hearing a batch of pleas seeking FIRs against various politicians for alleged hate speeches made during 2020 North-East Delhi riots, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked Delhi Police to inform it if the speeches before it are also subject matter of proceedings pending before the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh granted time to Rajat Nair, appearing for Delhi Police, to obtain instructions on this and listed the case for hearing on February 02.
“If these hate speeches are also under consideration in the proceedings pending before the Supreme Court, would it be advisable for us to proceed with it?” the bench remarked.
Nair informed court that a total of 9 petitions are pending adjudication before the Supreme Court and that he is also appearing in the same.
The bench also asked Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for one of the petitioners Shaikh Mujtaba to inform as to whether the High Court has ever directed a fact finding enquiry to be initiated by a retired judge.
“Supreme Court has done so but has the High Court ever directed it? Supreme Court has powers under Article 142 which the High Court doesn’t exercise,” Justice Mridul said.
The Supreme Court is seized of a batch of pleas seeking action against hate speech incidents. Some of the petitions were filed against “UPSC Jihad” show of Sudarshan News TV, “Corona jihad” campaign in the wake of Tablighi-Jamaat issue, Dharam Sansad meetings where anti-Muslim statements were allegedly made and other pleas seeking broad guidelines to curb hate speech.
The Supreme Court in December 2021 had asked the Delhi High Court to decide expeditiously, preferably within three months, one of the petitions seeking FIR and investigation against politicians. However, the matter is yet to be heard in detail.
As Gonsalves raised a concern regarding pendency of proceedings from a long period of time, the bench said:
“None of these parties that you have now impleaded were parties when these matters were first listed. That delay was occasioned not because of the court. They were not parties. That’s the point. Today again we are told that there is only one petition before us and now the batch is clubbed again. The idea is to make sure that in this clutter, we don’t lose the plot. We want to know whether these hate speeches are subject matter before Supreme Court.”
In July last year, the court had allowed the applications seeking impleadment of various political leaders and other persons as respondents to the pleas.
The impleadment application filed by petitioner Shaikh Mujtaba sought to implead four BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma.
On the other hand, the impleadment application filed by Lawyers Voice sought impleadment of various persons including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Manish Sisodhia, Amanat Uallah Khan, Akbaruddin Owaisi, Mehmood Pracha, Harsh Mander, Swara Bhaskar, Umar Khalid, Maulana Hamood Raza and BG Kolse Patil, amongst others.
Case Title: Ajay Gautam v. GNCTD and other connected pleas